Francesca is a PhD student in the Saunders Lab studying the molecular interaction between wheat and the pathogenic rust fungi.
These fungi are the causal agents of stem and yellow rust, which cause widespread global crop losses every year and threaten food security.
Specifically, Francesca’s research focusses on how the wheat chloroplasts and photosynthetic processes are being altered during infection with rust fungi.
The chloroplasts are the energy-producing organelles of the cell and have a key role in initiating and coordinating the plant immune response against pathogens.
The hope is that by increasing our understanding of the chloroplastic determinants of wheat susceptibility to rust fungi, we can develop new tools to help us control this disease and preserve global food production.